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Occupational Therapy Assistant Guide

Step 4: Evaluate your Evidence

Turn your PICO into a Research Question

In order to evaluate your evidence, you have to know whether it answers the question you're asking.  You have to formulate a research question.  To do this, go back to your PICO.  You'll use your PICO terms to guide your research question .  A good formula is:


Does (I) achieve (O) in (P)?


Does a particular intervention achieve a particular outcome in a particular population?



P Adults with type 2 diabetes
I Participation in community groups
C No participation in community groups
O Reduce health number of health issues

Does participation in community groups (I) reduce the number of health issues (O) for adults with type 2 diabetes (P)?



Read the Abstract

Research articles typically begin with an abstract, which is a short summary of the article.  The abstract will tell the research question the experiment tried to answer, as well as the results found in the experiment.  By reading the abstract, you should be able to figure out: Could this article answer my research question?


If the answer is yes, save this article to read later.

If the answer is no, move on to other articles.



Read your Articles

Research articles can be very dense and difficult to understand.  Don't stress out.  Focus on:

  1. The introduction - This explains why the experiment was done and what the goal of it was
  2. The results - This explains what the research found.  Don't get bogged down in the details!
  3. The conclusion - This is most important.  It explains the results in normal language and what their significance is.



Trust the Evidence

Remember, when you're doing research, you're looking to find the answer to a question.  You may have a hypothesis, a guess about what the answer is, but your hypothesis may be wrong.  Doing good research is about finding and understanding the best evidence, not proving your were right from the start.  


Don't ignore an article that doesn't confirm your hypothesis!  Your instructors, employers, and patients will give you more credit for following the evidence than for guessing the answer beforehand.